Bartlesville, the county seat of Washington County, is located near the west central part of the county at the junction of the M. K. & T. and the Santa Fe railroads. The town was named in honor of Jacob H. Bartles who came down from Kansas to this section of the country soon after the Civil war. He was so favorably impressed with the appearance of the country that he settled near the present site of his city namesake, on the banks of Caney Creek. He was a practical farmer and within the space of a few short years he had developed a large farm and was producing fine crops of wheat and corn. He married a Cherokee wife which gave him the right, under the laws of the tribe, to settle upon any unoccupied lands of the Cherokee Nation. Within a few years he had built a mill and established a general store, which was the beginning of the Town of Bartlesville, a new building was occasionally erected, but for several years it was but a frontier trading point of cheaply constructed frame houses, fronting on one street. About 1896 the first producing oil well was drilled within the limits of the unpretentious village, which was watched with interest by prospectors and which resulted in a rush of prospectors, drillers, mechanics and home-seekers as soon as valid leases could be obtained. From that time forward the village rapidly cast, aside the dull monotony which is characteristic of the frontier towns and began to assume the appearance of a thriving young city. Although many adventurers, miners and oil well drillers were attracted to the young city by the prospects of wealth and employment; Bartlesville has been remarkably free from the disorderly element which so frequently characterizes mining towns. For several years past the city has, by ordinance, prohibited Sunday moving picture shows. Another ordinance provides that no public dance halls can be operated without special license; that when licensed they shall be under the supervision of special officers ; and that no minors shall be permitted to attend public dances unless accompanied by their parents or guardians. A curfew ordinance provides that no children under sixteen years of age shall be allowed on the streets after half past nine o’clock in the evening. Rooming houses must secure special license and are under the strict surveillance of the city police. A cigarette ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to sell cigarettes to minors. Children under sixteen years of age are not permitted to drive automobiles on the public streets.
Bartlesville is also justly proud of its churches. The Presbyterian Church is a spacious building of white brick, having numerous rooms for. the various classes and church societies, with a church membership of nearly six hundred. Its buildings and furniture are valued at about seventy-five thousand dollars.
The Baptist Church has a membership of more than six hundred with a conveniently arranged church house. Its building is not large enough to accommodate its increasing membership and a new and larger building is already being planned. Their present building is well provided with parlors, class-rooms, kitchen, etc., but more space is needed for the various social activities which the church officials are planning for the future.
The Christian Church is a commodious structure, divided into numerous apartments and represents an investment of approximately one hundred thousand dollars. This church has about eight hundred members and is well supported by its congregation.
The Epworth Methodist Church has recently erected a new church building and, at present, its members utilize both the old and the new building. Its membership numbers about two hundred and is increasing.
All of the churches maintain good Sunday schools, conducted mostly upon the department plan, with special courses of study outlined for each year. Special attention is given to the social activities incident to church work, such as parties, picnics and other social gatherings for the old people as well as the young.
Other religious denominations, among which are the Episcopalians, Catholics, United Brethren and Christian Scientists, also maintain good church and Sunday school organizations.
The Young Men’s Christian Association is well supported as an adjunct to the church work of the city. A gymnasium is provided with physical apparatus, suitable for girls as well as boys who divide the hours in indulging in games, amusements and exercises of various kinds.
Bartlesville is not behind other cities of its class in its support of the various civic organizations which tend toward the moral and social uplift as well as the commercial advancement of the community.
An active Rotary club was organized a few years ago which devotes its quiet energies toward improving the general welfare of the city, giving special attention to the improvement of the boy life of the city.
The Kiwanis Club is giving some attention to the boys also, and in addition thereto, it directs its efforts toward the betterment of the city along other lines.
The Lions’ Club is one of the newer organizations of the city but it is directing its energies toward the improvement of conditions in the city along various lines.
The Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce is probably the most effective organization of the city. Many `things are constantly safe-guarded by the members of this body which are of value to the city, and many things are done for its benefit. A merchants’ and community institute was held in the city for one week. Noted lecturers were present and gave interesting and instructive talks during the entire week, on topics pertaining to the improvement of civic as well as business interests. During the unemployment period the Chamber of Commerce made a survey and took all possible steps to give all assistance in this line. To make possible, a place where the community interest could be taken care of comfortably, all efforts were put back of building a convention hall. An election was called; a $300,000 bond issue was voted for the construction of such building. A curb market was instituted where farmers and truck growers could find ready sale for products and the consumers find what they want at a nominal price. Tourist park has been established with facilities to accommodate those passing through the city. Through the chamber of commerce a bureau of mines experiment building has been built, and presented to the United States Government and it still receives both financial and moral support of the city.
In the cause of civic improvement and service the women of Bartlesville are doing their full share. They have organized various clubs at different times but at this time, their most active club is known as the Allois Club. Its membership is composed of the younger class of women who are interested in assisting other societies that are endeavoring to put into practice the principles of the Golden Rule.
With the assistance of the various civic organizations of the city an active council of the Boy Scouts was started about two years ago in which there are now enrolled about two hundred members. Soon after this council was ready for active service an experienced man was employed as Scout Executive who supervises all the activities of the council. The boys have frequent hikes, fishing and camping trips, and are taught to observe the scout motto : Do A Good Turn Daily. This council was one of the comparatively few in this country to send a representative to the International Scout Conference, held in Europe in 1920.
The leading men of Bartlesville maintain a country club with a commodious club house near the city which affords rest and recreation for its members and their families. The club grounds include a good golf course, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
In order that its citizens might have better facilities for entertainment the taxpayers of the city have but recently voted bonds in the sum of $300,000 for the erection of a large convention hall which will be utilized as a community center and as an assembly room for large conventions.
Bartlesville has two extensive wholesale grocery companies. The Behring wholesale company began business in 1904 in a small way, but its business has expanded in proportion to the growth of the city and the surrounding country. The daily sales of this company are now in excess of its weekly sales during the first few years of its existence.
The Bartlesville Wholesale Grocery Company, established about four years ago, has built up an extensive trade in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma.
Bartlesville was prompt in recognizing the value and importance of building and loan associations as an aid to city building. The Home Saving & Loan Association began business in 1909 and now has about one and a half million dollars invested in the homes of the city.
The People’s Saving & Loan Association, organized in 1914, now has about $400,000 invested in new homes.
The Empire Building & Loan Association is a newer institution whose loans now aggregate about four hundred thousand dollars. Opportunities for remunerative investments in eastern Oklahoma have been so numerous that the people have been slow to take advantage of the wonderful possibilities offered by good building associations as an aid in town building. It is a well known fact that in many of the towns of the older states a majority of the homes are made possible by the easy terms of payment offered by building associations and as our young state advances in years, it, too, will pattern after the other states in this respect.
Bartlesville City Schools
Bartlesville has an up-to-date public school system consisting of a senior high school, a junior high school and five ward schools. The senior high school includes the regular work of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades and has special courses in manual training, arts, music, a commercial department and a training course for prospective teachers. The junior high school does the work of the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. The junior high school building was recently added to the city school system at a cost of about one hundred thousand dollars. It is equipped with a gymnasium, moving picture machine and departments of manual and domestic science. About twenty-seven hundred pupils are enrolled in the public schools of the. city and 100 teachers are employed.
Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.